Friday, June 14, 2013

Microsoft Could Have Taken a Page from Another Major Competitor for Xbox One Positioning

Xbox One reveal, Xbox One release
The console wars are not over.  Sony's "win" at 2013's E3 cannot be, at this point, directly associated with units shipped, sold, in-use, etc...  But one can argue that an interesting stage has been set for the two "hardcore" gaming consoles that will be going head to head in the coming months and years.  That narrative seems to be painting the underdog, Sony, as the early fan favorite, essentially erasing their transgressions from the $600 PS3 late launch, and turning the tables on last-gen titan, the Xbox

I'm pretty firmly a Sony guy, I'll admit that.  But that's not to say I'm not interested in the Xbox, the games I never really get to play, and some of it's services.  I kept a close tab on their two recent press conferences, the world-wide reveal, and the E3 press conference.

A lot of criticism hasn't been solely on the lightning rod features such as a more complicated software licensing model for purchased games or the online requirement (which by the way, they're right, and isn't a big deal...it also has HDMI as your only output and I don't see people complaining about a HDTV requirement), but much of the criticism has been on messaging.

It's no secret that MS has been looking into how the Xbox can be a central entertainment hub for the living room and when looking back to the initial reveal of the Xbox One a few weeks ago in May, I was thinking that maybe they could have taken a page or two from Steve Jobs' playbook.



Apple had a run away success with the iPod.  It defined the mp3 player and owned the market, after having revolutionized how we purchased and listened to music.  They had dabbled in an iTunes compatible phone with the underwhelming Motorola ROKR and like their best stuff, decided that partnering isn't their style and turned to develop an iPod Phone internally.  We all knew it was coming.

But when Steve Jobs came on stage to talk about Apple's next game changing device, he famously listed out the three devices they were revealing that day in January 2007.  A new standard in smart phone, the best iPod they'd ever created, and a revolutionary internet device.  A phone, an iPod, and an internet device.  "Are you getting it?" he joked as the audience put 1+1+1 together.  Man, he could work a room.

Microsoft almost pulled of a similar reveal in May, but they pulled their punches and still walked in Xbox first.  Yes, yes, the analysts have indicated that the early adopters are key, and the early adopters are gamers, and you can't alienate the gamers....

But what if, the reveal was of something new...but that it still catered to the gamers.  What if they came into this as Microsoft and not as Xbox?  What if it would have been a Microsoft press conference, where they wanted to show the world a new product category (not a gaming console) that would include "a revolutionary interface for media access across television, movies, music, and internet.  A 1080p Skype solution for the whole family.  And the best Xbox (they'd) ever created.  What if they would have "appified" the Xbox similarly to how the iPhone had an iPod app....which eventually just evolved into the current Music App.

We could Monday-morning-quarterback the whole thing forever, and we'll never know how things could have changed or even if they need to as it's too early to tell.  But perhaps MS would have been better served by introducing the world to something like the Microsoft Xroom or Xtheater or Xmediator which could be viewed as a device for everyone including the resident gamer instead of a device "for" gamers that has features for everyone else.

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